We Compare 9 LED Lights To Bring You 3 Inexpensive Winners


Image credit: Solid Apollo, G8LED, Lighthouse Hydro

 

LED grow lights can be found on Ebay or Amazon for cheap. Really cheap. But an inexpensive light usually translates to poor construction and insufficient quality. Cheap LED grow lighting may function great for a while --- maybe even a few years --- but probably will not work for much longer. The companies that make cheap LED grow lighting claim that their diodes last 50,000-100,000 hours (10-20+ years if diodes are illuminated 57% of the time). Considering that LED grow lighting hit the market around 2009, it has not been long enough to have reached this timeframe. Will the lights last? Will these companies customers be happy? Hmm...

If you want a quality LED grow light that will last you 10 years or more, you have to spend a little bit of money. Not much, but some. It's worth it in the end, because with the extra cost, you are likely receiving higher quality diodes, more PAR/PPFD, a well constructed unit, and a longer warranty.

For this LED grow light comparison, we wanted to give you your best options for a full-cycle LED grow light under $350. Why full-cycle and why under $350? Full-cycle growing will allow you to grow from seedling to flower as opposed to only vegging or flowering a plant. And by setting the limit to $350, you have a lot more options available to you.

We looked at nine LED grow lights and took into consideration the actual wattage, price, and coverage area of each lamp. We calculated the price/watt and the price/watt/square. The three least expensive price/watt/sq ft were determined to be the best LED grow lights for under $350.

 

Let's take a look at the LED grow lights that we will be comparing...

 

 
Blackstar 135 watt UV UFO
Nova M2
BlackStar 180 Watt UV V2.0
Solar Core Ares
G8-240

 

Intensity Series II- 135 watt
BlackStar Chrome 180 Watt FSF
Sol 1
BlackStar 240 watt UV V2.0

 

And now, the comparison...

 

Model

          

Brand

          

Wattage

          

Price

          

Price/Watt

          

Coverage Area

          

Price/Watt/Sqft

          

Warranty

BlackStar 135 watt UV UFO

Lighthouse Hydro 78W 189.99  $2.43 4 sq ft $0.60 1 Y

Nova M2- 85 watt

Evergrow 85W 249.99 $2.94 2 sq ft $1.47 3 Y

BlackStar 180 watt UV V2.0

Lighthouse Hydro 111W 259.99 $2.34 6 sq ft $0.39 3 Y

Solar Core Ares- 140 watt

Solid Apollo 130W 274.99 $2.11 8 sq ft $0.26 5 Y

G8-240

G8LED 140W 309.99 $2.21 8 sq ft $0.27 2 Y

Intensity Series II- 135 watt

Intelligent-Gro 90W  324.99 $3.61 4 sq ft $0.90 3 Y

BlackStar Chrome 180 Watt FSF

Lighthouse Hydro 111W  319.99 $2.88 6.25 sq ft $0.46 1 Y

Sol 1- 100 watt

Hydro Grow 97W  349.99 $3.60 9 sq ft $0.40 2 Y

BlackStar 240 watt UV V2.0

Lighthouse Hydro 127W 349.99 $2.75 6 sq ft $0.45 3 Y

 

*This chart does not take into account PAR/PPFD, which can be affected by light distance and lens shape/angle. Additional tests that measure PAR/PPFD should be completed and considered to backup this comparison.

 

Based on the price/watt/sq ft the winners, in order, are:

1. Solar Core Ares- 140 watt by Solid Apollo

2. G8-240 by G8LED

3. BlackStar 180 watt UV V2.0 by Lighthouse Hydro

 

Let's examine the lights further.

 

Solar Cores Ares

Advantages: Solid Apollo offers a 5 year warranty and a 4 month money-back guarantee on their lights.

Disadvantages: The Solar Core Ares is a newer LED unit and has not been used by as many growers as the G8-240 or BlackStar 180 watt UV V2.0.

 

G8-240 

Advantages: The G8-240 is 10 watts and 29 watt more powerful than the Solar Core Ares and the BlackStar unit, respectively.

Disadvantages: The unit costs $35 more and $50 more than the Ares and BlackStar unit, respectively, and only has a 2 year warranty. However, this is worth the investment in my opinion. G8LED has nothing but excellent reviews on their LED grow lights.

In addition: You can fit about 5 marijuana plants under each of these lights assuming 1.5 sq ft per plant.

Both of these lights cover an area of 8 sq ft. Yet, if you take into account that each square foot of grow space should be receiving 25 watts of growing power (see section: 2. What is the size of your grow space?), these lights fall short of meeting that requirement. To solve this problem, you can move the lights closer to your plants. In reality, it is the PAR that reaches the plants that matters and not the actual wattage of the unit. There is a correlation between PAR and wattage, but we are not going to cover this topic here.

 

BlackStar 180 watt UV V2.0

Advantages: At $259.99, this unit is cheaper than both the Ares and the G8-240 and comes with a 3 year warranty. This light has been used many times by growers. In addition, Lighthouse Hydro has a great reputation.

Disadvantages: The BlackStar 180 watt UV V2.0 is only 111 watts and covers 6 sq ft. This light should also be moved closer to the plants to attain the proper wattage/sq ft of growing space.

With a 6 ft coverage area you can setup 4 marijuana plants in the space under the light.

 

Conclusion: So what is the best full-cycle LED grow light under $350?

I would go with either the Solar Core Ares or the G8-240. The lights are powerful for the price and allow you to grow more plants underneath them than the BlackStar 180 watt UV V2.0. Yet, the BlackStar 180 watt UV V2.0 would also be an excellent choice for your money.

What light would you choose and why? Let us know below.